The 2020 Pakistan Super League (PSL) has finally reached its penultimate stage. After many players withdrew due to COVID-19, the squads have been reshuffled, with new overseas players drafted in for the playoffs stage starting November 14th. Let's review the squads and likely starting line-ups of each remaining team.
Having lost two of their key batsmen in James Vince and Moeen Ali, Multan Sultans have gone above and beyond to find potential replacements for the PSL playoffs. Being in the qualifier, they would still be in the competition if they lost a game, so having six overseas players — the most of any squad — could come in handy.
Rilee Rossouw, Joe Denly and Adam Lyth join the squad, and will tussle for the opener role, while Brendan Taylor also sits in with a chance. Ravi Bopara is expected to play a bigger role in the playoffs to accompany the settled domestic half of the batting lineup.
After Usman Qadir's player of the series performance against Zimbabwe, Multan will be eager to somehow fit him in the squad. However, with Shahid Afridi and Imran Tahir both in the squad, it is unclear how this could happen this PSL season, especially given Afridi's importance at number seven.
Multan's bowling is also settled, a mark of their consistency this PSL season, as star bowler Sohail Tanvir teams up with Mohammad Irfan and emerging player Mohammad Ilyas. Alternatives on the bench include the dynamic Ali Shafiq and experienced campaigner Junaid Khan.
First XI: Joe Denly, Zeeshan Ashraf (W), Shan Masood (C), Rilee Rossouw, Ravi Bopara, Khushdil Shah, Shahid Afridi / Usman Qadir, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Ilyas (Emerging), Mohammad Irfan, Imran Tahir.
Bench: Adam Lyth, Brendan Taylor, Rohail Nazir (W, Emerging), Shahid Afridi / Usman Qadir, Bilawal Bhatti, Junaid Khan, Ali Shafiq.
One of the enigmas of this year's elongated PSL are the Karachi Kings. With one of the strangest squad compositions, the Kings have brought in more odd picks to maintain team balance. The top four seem to be settled, with Pakistan captain Babar Azam opening with the dangerous Sharjeel, followed by Alex Hales and Cameron Delport batting down at three and four.
Given Chadwick Walton's woeful CPL form, and the rise of Mohammad Rizwan, it seems likely that the Rizwan will take the gloves for the PSL playoffs. This means that Sherfane Rutherford and Mitchell McClenaghan's replacement, Wayne Parnell, would complete the quote of four overseas players.
To join the South African paceman, dynamic all-rounder Aamer Yamin and Mohammad Amir are sure picks alongside the captain, Imad Wasim. With three pace bowlers plus the medium of Sherfane Rutherford, it seems unlikely the emerging player spot would go to Arshad Iqbal.
Umer Khan is likely to feature more in the PSL playoffs than he did in the group stage. Iftikhar Ahmed may struggle to make the team given the odd balance and his poor form with the bat, although there are a few scenarios where he keeps his place.
First XI: Babar Azam, Sharjeel Khan, Alex Hales, Cameron Delport, Mohammad Rizwan (W), Sherfane Rutherford, Aamer Yamin, Imad Wasim (C), Wayne Parnell, Mohammad Amir, Umer Khan (Emerging).
Bench: Awais Zia, Chadwick Walton (W), Iftikhar Ahmed, Usama Mir, Waqas Maqsood, Arshad Iqbal (Emerging).